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Feel like you're being watched? It's because YOU ARE....

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NSA, Google, Facebook and formerly Nordstrom are watching you

'Big Data' is watching you
July 16, 2013 12:05 am

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By Ken Dilanian / Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON --- Not long before headlines exposed National Security Agency programs that secretly collect records of Americans' phone calls, another surveillance system got far less attention: Nordstrom, the department store chain, acknowledged it was tracking customers without their knowledge in 17 stores.

Nordstrom had hired a company to log a unique number emitted by shoppers' smartphones, which automatically connected to Wi-Fi systems as they moved through the stores. Shortly after a Dallas TV station broke the story in May, Nordstrom announced it was discontinuing the program.

The company that sold the tracking service, Euclid Analytics, has tracked 50 million devices in 4,000 locations for 100 corporate and other customers, its founder has said. Shoppers are free to opt out, but the process is complex -- they must enter their phone's media access control address, known as a MAC address, on Euclid's website.

Self-confessed leaker Edward Snowden's disclosures about domestic spying by the NSA have sparked a broad debate about whether the government is using sophisticated surveillance and data-mining techniques on its own citizens without sufficient oversight.

PG graphic: How they track you
(Click image for larger version)

But information gathered and exploited by Internet giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook -- and traded by lesser-known data brokers such as Datalogix and Acxiom -- can be more revealing than what the NSA can legally collect on most Americans. Few consumers understand what data are being shared, with whom, or how the information is being used.

"We normally think of the NSA as being far ahead of corporate America, but I'm not so sure they are that far ahead anymore," said Mark Herschberg, chief technology officer at Madison Logic, a New York-based company that provides data for advertisers.

"There are thousands of companies out there collecting information on customers, and together they are really aggregating quite a bit of data," he added. "Google is reading through your email. Amazon is looking at not just what you buy, but what you shop for."

The collection and analysis of consumer information in bulk is enabled by what has been dubbed the "Big Data" revolution -- the combination of digitization, cheap storage, robust computing power and sophisticated analytics that allows experts to find correlations in ever-expanding pools of data.

Most Americans emit a stream of personal digital exhaust -- what they search for, what they buy, who they communicate with, where they are -- that is captured and exploited in a largely unregulated fashion. The information can be used by identity thieves, insurance companies, prospective employers or opponents in a civil lawsuit.

"How do I express my privacy requirements? Increasingly, it means I have shut off my phone and become a digital hermit," said Ian Glazer, a vice president at Gartner Inc., an information technology research and advisory company.

In addition to privacy threats, he said, "there is a fundamental problem with fairness, in the sense that I am generating all this data about me through my devices, and these organizations are harvesting it and making a profit off it."

Google says it uses algorithms, not humans, to mine the content of Gmail messages. Thus if someone sends a digital note about an upcoming trip, the computer may generate an ad for an airline or hotel.

Amazon and other companies track online shoppers and display ads for items their customers perused as they browse other websites. Retailer Target was able to use purchasing patterns to figure out when women were pregnant and target ads accordingly.

Smartphones double as tracking devices, sending periodic signals that disclose their locations. Though the NSA says it does not collect that information about Americans, numerous popular applications, including the game "Angry Birds" and Yelp, do so for their developers, using precise coordinates from cell towers and GPS systems. Some sell the data to third parties.

Mobile carriers, including Verizon Wireless, have begun selling aggregate location data. Verizon, on its website, promises advertisers "detailed demographics; location analysis to determine where your target consumer segment lives and works; and foot-and-mobile traffic habits," though not names or phone numbers.

Officials at Euclid, the company that helped Nordstrom track its customers, declined to comment.



Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/nsa-google-facebook-and-formerly-nordstrom-are-watching-you-695592/#ixzz2ZDA24AWV

by on Jul. 16, 2013 at 8:34 AM
Replies (41-45):
cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Most people don't know, because when they do this stuff, they never announce it. I like that even less than them doing it in the first place. 

Quoting HappyHomestead:

I did not know this about fb. I think it may be time for fb and I to part ways. I have been considering it for a while. I think it is time.


Quoting cjsbmom:

And just so everyone knows, FB also has added something called a "graphics app" that allows anyone on your friends list to share photos you posts with anyone they choose. So even if you have your settings on private or "friends only," they can still share them. 

That is the kind of stuff that pisses me off as well. And the only way to turn it off is to ask everyone on your friends list to do it for you. Why? Why should I have to rely on my friends to do that? Why can't it be an option *I* choose? 

I think the days of my FB account are numbered. 




HappyHomestead
by on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:29 PM

I tend to agree with you. The least they could do is let us know what changes are going to happen.


Quoting cjsbmom:

Most people don't know, because when they do this stuff, they never announce it. I like that even less than them doing it in the first place. 

Quoting HappyHomestead:

I did not know this about fb. I think it may be time for fb and I to part ways. I have been considering it for a while. I think it is time.


Quoting cjsbmom:

And just so everyone knows, FB also has added something called a "graphics app" that allows anyone on your friends list to share photos you posts with anyone they choose. So even if you have your settings on private or "friends only," they can still share them. 

That is the kind of stuff that pisses me off as well. And the only way to turn it off is to ask everyone on your friends list to do it for you. Why? Why should I have to rely on my friends to do that? Why can't it be an option *I* choose? 

I think the days of my FB account are numbered. 






Sunshine257
by Bronze Member on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:32 PM
They are watching me through my phone and television!!!

No seriously I have thought this about google and Facebook and the Internet in general. Oh well what can you do?
cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Want to have an experiment? Leave your email open sometime and then google random things. You will start to get emails advertising those things. I had it happen to me once. I forgot my email was open when I was researching nursing stuff for my  niece, and then I started getting ads for nursing school in my email. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Quoting Sunshine257:

They are watching me through my phone and television!!!

No seriously I have thought this about google and Facebook and the Internet in general. Oh well what can you do?


Sunshine257
by Bronze Member on Jul. 17, 2013 at 12:57 PM
Oh no I believe it. I just don't know what can be done about it.


Quoting cjsbmom:

Want to have an experiment? Leave your email open sometime and then google random things. You will start to get emails advertising those things. I had it happen to me once. I forgot my email was open when I was researching nursing stuff for my  niece, and then I started getting ads for nursing school in my email. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Quoting Sunshine257:

They are watching me through my phone and television!!!



No seriously I have thought this about google and Facebook and the Internet in general. Oh well what can you do?



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